Category: News

The Roboticist Chronicles: Getting Dirty and Dangerous with Abrasive Finishing

Robots are perfect for abrasive finishing, because they work well in situations that possess all three of the “Big Ds” – dull, dirty and dangerous.

Even so, while more companies are embracing robotics, there are some areas, like abrasive processing, that are yet to see full integration even though they are “three-D situations.”

“I think it’s kind of interesting that, here we are in the 21st century, and we’re just now starting to robotically automate finishing. Because, if you rewind 60 years ago, one of the first areas we started automating was in machine tools,” said Dan Allford, the president of ARC Specialties. “The difference is, way back then, we were imposing our will on the part. That means we take a big block of metal or whatever and then we machine a part from it.

“Fast forward to now, and you’re trying to do finishing on parts, but we’re having to adapt to the shape of the part. That’s the big difference, and that’s why it’s taken robotics so many years to catch up to machining.”

There’s still work to do, with organizations like ARC and 3M collaborating more and more frequently beyond this special podcast, with 3M co-sponsoring the Robotics Industry Association’s Grinding and Finishing Conference.

“At the end of the day, the knowledge in the industry about robotic abrasive processing is really in its infancy, frankly,” said Scott Barnett, Application Engineering Manager for Robotic Abrasive Processing at 3M. “It is a fairly complex thing to get right, and we want and need industry members to develop more expertise in the space so we can help our customers with their processing challenge.”

Now, after years of slow progress, things are moving quickly in the right direction.

Teamwork: The Problem-Solver’s Premier Tool

At ARC Specialties, we build around three control platforms – robot, CNC and Industrial PCs (IPC).

Our popular ARC-05 family of Gas Tungsten Arc (GTA) Clad Hot Wire welding systems are all based on the Beckhoff Automation IPC, and we have machines running in 32 countries.

That kind of global presence means we need absolute reliability at all time. We can’t afford to fall short of exceeding the standards we’ve established for ourselves – and that our customers have come to expect.

To that end, Richard Lester, our Beckhoff application engineer, and the Beckhoff IPC have provided a successful foundation and pathway toward achieving that goal of absolute reliability.

GTA welding is a harsh application for an IPC due to the high-frequency starter, and the IPC must sample arc voltage arc in the 10-20 VDC range and survive the arc starter on the same circuit operating at 15,000 volts and 1 MHz.

That’s true noise immunity!

In combination with Beckhoff’s single-system approach and commonality of programming, training and use of solutions become simpler than ever before, offering industry-leading resource savings, consistency, reliability, flexibility, modularity and performance.

Superior Cladding provides key corrosion-resistant and wear-resistant overlays for oil and gas industry clients, making reliability paramount.

“Mistakes in this industry are heard about on the news, so our mistakes are unacceptable,” Superior Cladding’s Nathan Sumrall said. “ARC Specialties’ equipment is indispensable because of its consistency. (It) allows us to perform at a very high standard and also with great accuracy with our parts.”

To get a better idea of exactly how the Beckhoff IPC combines with our GTA welding solutions to provide unmatched results, check out the video here, which features Superior Cladding Products and their ARC-05 machines in action.

At ARC Specialties we thrive on problems. Don’t believe us? Send us yours!

Contact ARC today.

The Economic Consequences of COVID-19

The debate about how many lives were spared by stay-at-home policies enacted to “flatten the curve” and fight back against the COVID-19 pandemic will likely rage for years to come.

However, the devastating effects the effective shutdown has had on the U.S. economy and the health and well-being of Americans will be undeniable.

By early April, it became very apparent that the economic future of the country is extremely grim. As the pandemic rages, the country’s unemployment numbers are projected to be far worse than they were during the Great Depression, which is viewed as the end-all, be-all of U.S. economic downturns. And a bailout with freshly printed money won’t fix that.

I agree with Michael Burry, MD and economist.

“Lockdowns intended to contain the coronavirus pandemic are worse than the disease itself,” he said. “It bleeds deep anguish and suicide.”

Ultimately, there are only two solutions to COVID-19 and the ripple effects its orchestrated throughout the U.S. and global economies – a vaccine, which is not expected to be ready for widespread availability at any point in the near future, and herd immunity.

Lockdown is only intended to “flatten the curve,” not act as a long-term solution.

Having celebrated 61 birthdays, I am thankful that the virus mostly spares the young. As a parent, I am willing to sacrifice for my kid and future grandkids.

This is a time for shared sacrifice. I call on politicians to lead by example and take a deep pay cut, as my company officers and I have here at ARC. At ARC, no one has been laid off. Bills are paid and everyone is working safely, cashing pay checks and supporting the economy.

It is time to get back to work, restart the economy and start the healing.

– Dan Allford, President, ARC Specialties

ARC Specialties’ Applied Automation Seminar Delivers Industry-Leading Insights

RIA Certified integrator ARC Specialties is proud to be leading the charge in educating and empowering major players in the robotics, automation and finishing industries.

To that end, ARC hosted January’s Applied Automation Seminar, or AAS 2020, highlighting the company’s commitment to elevating the industry and its collective efforts to innovate and drive the future.

Representatives from Across the Industry

Sponsored by Graebener Maschinentechnik, AAS 2020 featured insights from representatives from a variety of industry leaders, including ATI Industrial Automation, KUKA North America, Xiris Automation, Inc., 3M and FANUC America Corporation.

The event was a tremendous opportunity for the industry to gather with a shared purpose – providing a forum for critical discussion of the latest advancements in robotics and how those at the industry’s forefront can take advantage.

Highlights of AAS 2020

The event featured eight distinct presentations, each highlighting an engaging and impactful look at an aspect of the industry.

Each of the presentations is linked below – you can also view all eight videos by here.

RIA & A3: Robotic Application of Tool Changers and Compliant Finishing Tools

Keynote speaker Catherine Morris, Director of Automation Sales for ATI Industrial Automation, delivered a deeper look at how being a part of trade associations RIA and A3 can help you ensure you’re at the forefront of emerging technology, business opportunities and new markets.

The Evolution of Cladding

ARC Specialties Vice President John Martin walked attendees through “The Evolution of Cladding,” highlighting how equipment needed to manufacture components that keep pace with the ever-evolving needs of the oil and gas industry is being designed and innovated to fulfill that purpose.

KUKA – ready2_grind

KUKA Robotics Senior Robotics Software Engineer Constantin Opreau presents the latest collaborative innovation between 3M and KUKA – the ready2_grind preconfigured robotic weld grinding system, designed to provide increased automation and efficiency in grinding applications.

Robotic Thermal Spray

ARC Specialties Project Manager Randy Ellington took the stage to give attendees an in-depth look at the processes, history, efficiency, safety and automation innovations in the thermal spray process, helping them understand both how far the process has come and where it’s headed.

XIRIS: Arc Monitoring with Real-Time Dimensional Data

XIRIS Automation Product Manager Greg Cooke examines how real-time dimensional data elevates arc video monitoring, diving into how users can make applications with XIRIS cameras for OEM and research use cases and more.

Robotic Machining, Sanding & Surgery

ARC Specialties Control System Programmer Kevin Sevcik presents not only the current aspects of robotic automation that are innovating the way finishing is done and providing unmatched manufacturing benefits, but a cutting-edge endeavor from the company – robotic surgery.

3M: Automated Material Removal & Media Selection

3M Advanced Application Engineer Tyler Naatz enlightens his audience about how they can correctly choose an abrasive product solution that meets their unique process needs, outlining how 3M’s solutions deliver benefits throughout the automation process.

FANUC: Collaborative Robotics

FANUC America Senior District Manager Matt Gresens provides an overview of the world of collaborative robots before taking a deeper look at the six different models offered by FANUC, which range from 4-35 kg in payload and 550-1,813 mm in reach.

Look Ma, NO HANDS!

The continuing saga of Coping with COVID 2020

The ARC Specialties “open door” policy of blocking all the doors open to avoid touching doorknobs worked well……. until the Houston summer heat made it unbearable. So we had to escalate. Our guys made and installed some foot-operated, hands-free door openers so now we can avoid door knobs AND run the air conditioners too.

As the COVID pandemic drags on we continue to improvise, adapt, and overcome.

Keeping America Working!

Dan Allford


New Hire John Stoll



[HOUSTON, TEXAS, April 22—] We are pleased to announce the recent hiring of John Stoll to the position of outside sales application engineering representative. John comes to us from voelstalpine Bohler North America, where for five years, he served as an application engineer and strategic accounts manager. This is preceded by his 27 years of service with Lincoln Electric Metrode Products Ltd. from which he retired with the last 5 years as the North American Manager of Alloys.


He is a member of NACE, a life member of AWS with 40+ years of continuous service and a past AWS District 18 Director. He was elected and served on the Executive Committee of the AWS Board of Directors in 2016. He is also a member of ASME, and serves on several API committees, including A582 and A934G. He has served on the advisory boards for both San Jacinto College and Tulsa Welding School (Houston campus). He has been a judge for the Houston Livestock Show’s Ag-Mechanics contest for the past 20 years and continues to do so.


He has developed, produced, and conducted at least two Welding Symposiums per year, for the past 15 years, for the greater Gulf Coast area. In addition to the educational aspect, these conferences have allowed QA/QC management, Welding Engineers, and Sr. Welding personnel a chance to meet and discuss common industry challenges. These Symposiums have included some of our industry’s leading authorities sharing their experience and wisdom pertaining to the betterment of our welding industry. As a bonus, PDH credit hours have been awarded to the participants.

Just Truss Me: Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing

We decided to build a truss to see just how strong Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) built aluminum parts really are. Mike Willey created a truss design and used FEA to estimate that it would support over 1000 lbs. Kevin Sevcik then imported the model into Robotmaster offline programming software to create the robot path. Then using Lincoln Electric R350 Power Wave with Advanced Module running in AC pulse mode Jim Walker built a 5356 aluminum truss using the ARC-06 robot in our laboratory. Total build time was around 3 hours and for an 8 pound part. Finally, we tested the part in our own special Texan way to over 1,200 pounds WITHOUT FAILURE.

Watch the video for the whole story:

ARC Specialties thrives on problems, send us yours!

Cross Training During 2020 COVID Pandemic

So far NO COVID at ARC! However, we have started cross-training just in case someone does get sick and self- quarantines. We are determined to continue to support our Essential Industrial Partners.

Benny & Rolando are expert fitters and superb welders with flux core and MIG. So when I gave them a class on Gas Tungsten Arc Welding or TIG welding, they picked it up very quickly. They welded up a stainless rack as a first project. The welds were sound but not up to our visual standards so they ground them. If you have seen our welding Workmanship video you know my opinion of people who grind welds: “If you can’t weld you grind.” Grinding destroys all evidence of workmanship or lack thereof.

I expect Benny & Roland will soon be making good welds that are too pretty to grind.

If you agree that now is the time to train see:

Introducing Unprecedented Automation with the ARC-5 Infinity

In today’s ever-more-automated world, leveraging that potential for automation is critical for achieving your goals and running a successful business on the leading edge of your industry.

ARC understands that, working diligently to bring to market innovations that help you stay ahead of that growth.

To that end, ARC is proud to introduce the ARC-5 Infinity, the industry’s newest, cutting-edge cladding solution.

What is the ARC-5 Infinity?

The ARC-5 Infinity represents an unprecedented combination of beneficial solutions, bringing together a Fanuc robot with ARC’s proven, seven-axis infinite rotation head to bring a new level of capability to cladding.

Combined with ARC’s proprietary programming software, the ARC-5 Infinity is simply engineered to do what other solutions can’t – weld complex internal bore along any axis without any part rotation.

The addition of the robotic element, which replaces the standard, column-and-boom manipulator, provides for a level of automation and control never before seen in cladding solutions, bringing a truly standard-setting solution to your processes.

The x, y and z-axis movement capabilities allow for complex welds in three dimensions without moving the part you’re working on.

In short, the ARC-5 Infinity improves upon our already popular ARC-5 solutions with these key additions:

  • The combination of ARC’s infinite rotation head and a Fanuc robot’s capabilities
  • Simple, easy-to-use controls that allow for elevated precision
  • ARC’s programming software, which generates the torch path and streams data to the robot
  • Elimination of expensive part manipulators and completion of complex welds without any part movement at all

You can watch the full walk through video here: [ embed – ]

What Challenges Does It Address?

One of the biggest plagues upon the oil industry is corrosive, sour gas issues that not only hinder productivity, but are toxic to team members.

If oil has a Sulphur content of at least 5%, it passes this “sour” threshold, producing biodegradation that results in hydrogen sulfide and atomic hydrogen that migrates into the steel matrix, leading to stress cracking.

Traditionally, clad weld overlay of all internal surfaces with low-iron, nickel-based alloys has mitigated the problem – but the ARC-5 Infinity offers a better way.

The automation and efficiency provided by the ARC-5 Infinity translates directly to more consistent, time-and-cost-saving cladding that not only boosts your bottom line but works to help prevent this hydrogen-induced stress cracking even in situations that require complex and large-scale welds.

To learn more about how the ARC-5 Infinity is changing the face of cladding, download the brochure or contact ARC today.

The Roboticist Chronicles: Robots Aren’t Stealing Your Jobs, They’re Creating Them

As technology advances at an exponential rate, a common fearful sentiment among Americans is that robots are stealing human jobs. But, this long standing rumor couldn’t be farther from the truth. Robots actually create jobs, save humans from harm, and open up opportunities for new industry growth. The Roboticist Chronicles unpacks how robots are helping humans and changing industries of all kinds in this episode with guest Dan Allford, President and Founder of ARC Specialties.

“Robots aren’t bad, bad integrators are bad,” Allford said, explaining how robots have gotten a bad rap in the past having been improperly assigned to ill-fitting jobs and tasks.

But robots have also found great success when assigned to tasks where they shine, like washing dishes or clothing, or crafting contact lenses. As a result, the life of humanity has changed for the better.

“There’s still a place in the world for people,” he said.

The robot is perhaps best glorified in their role of saving humans from harmful, dangerous tasks. Robots have replaced jobs where humans would have been exposed to extreme temperatures, dangerous chemicals, or harmful gases.

And robots are on the brink of another stage of evolution with the “collaborative robot,” that is, a robot that works side by side with humans.

“There are some things that people do better, and some things that robots do better,” Allford said. And when a symbiotic relationship is struck between the two parties, robotics don’t dampen human capabilities, they uplift them.

Be it medicine, oil drilling, aeronautics, plumbing, or space exploration, robotics have helped push industry forward by taking on tasks better suited for automation and precision. Robotics expert, Dan Allford, elaborates on why correctly identifying jobs where robots excel is the key to mechanization helping humanity move forward.